Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Setback for Marcelo Ebrard: Supreme Court overturns new electoral code

The Mexican Supreme Court overturned a recent change to the Mexico City electoral code that sought to impose new restrictions on the creation of political parties. The overturned law stipulated that a new party would require a membership of 2 percent of the official voting list in every delegation in order to be able to register as a new party; the Supreme Court found this to be too restrictive.

I understand the Supreme Court's reasoning: It particularly pointed out that the population of Mexico's delegaciones or boroughs varies greatly, so if it achieved say 5 percent in one borough of 2 million, why would it need 2 percent in a borough of only 150,000?

Yet the law - voted unanimously by all parties in the Mexico City legislature (who of course have their own incentive of avoiding new electoral threats) also in my opinion also addressed a very legitimate concern: it sought to prevent new small "strongman" parties of which there may now unfortunately be several - parties organized around say a former secretary of the government, a current senator, etc, who has used his or her position to build up a very personal power base in a typically very clientelistic manner.

Also, it may lead to new political fragmentation - with simply an unmanageable number of new small parties that will make it extremely hard to achieve a majority in the legislature and actually get anything done.

And a setback it is as well for Marcelo Ebrard, who will now likely face new "leftwing" parties that seek to chip off support from the PRD in favor of new and likely highly pragmatic electoral outfits that couldn't care less about any programmatic content.

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